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This article studies how next-generation optical access networks can exploit the properties of wireless connectivity to provide improved quality of service to users, and reports on a corresponding experimental prototype as well. Optical access networks using the passive optical network architecture are being increasingly deployed worldwide for fiber-to-the-home/business applications. While a PON can support higher data rates, it suffers from its tree architecture since it is vulnerable to a fiber cut on its tree¿s trunk, which will disrupt service to its users. However, by exploiting the properties of wireless connectivity, such as a wireless mesh in the front-end, the network can be made more robust. In case of a network element failure, an alternate path through the wireless-wireline integrated network may be selected, if it exists. Such a network can provide reliable high-capacity connectivity to untethered wireless devices which may be mobile as well. For such wireless-optical broadband access networks, we study a Risk-Aware Routing (RAR) algorithm to make it fault-tolerant and self-healing in case of failures. We also report on results from an experimental prototype developed in our laboratory.
Date of Publication: July-August 2013